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Has anyone had an 18 month old who doesn't sleep at ALL? If so, why???

(16 Posts)
CharCharGabor Wed 31-Aug-11 14:16:34

Hello smile DD2 is 18 months and doesn't sleep at all. A typical night would be taking around 2 hours to settle down to sleep and then crying almost all the way through the night. She is still breastfeed but doesn't feed that much during the night, I offer and she latches for a sec and then cries again and throws herself around, ad nauseum. I just don't understand why she cries so much. She had reflux until about 13 months which wasn't properly treated so she used to scream for hours and hours through the night. When that eased this started instead.

Bizarrely, she will settle fine for naps and sleep for around 2 hours. She has bedtime routine. I have tried everything to change this and nothing makes a difference. I am starting to feel really desperate!

She has had a lot of ear infections in the last few months and has been referred to audiology as she doesn't say much and doesn't seem to understand much of what we say.

Has anyone else had a toddler like this? Was there a reason for it? When did it stop? Right now I could hide, so tired and fed up. Thanks smile

Weissbier Wed 31-Aug-11 18:07:40

The only things I can think of to suggest from your message are (in this order

- to stop breastfeeding, at least at night - there is no way she can possibly need it anymore.
- to push for that audiology appointment as soon as possible in case there is a medical reason and if they don't find anything push with GP for other help (sleep clinic?)
- to keep her awake during the day? Is she doing all her sleep in naps? At 18 months normally a baby would only sleep for maybe one two-hour nap in total during the day. And if she had reflux before, perhaps despite her bedtime routine she has always associated the night with thrashing around and being uncomfortable. If you cut her day sleep, she'll be very tired and grumpy for a few days but assuming there's no medical reason for her being awake at night she will then adjust.

I'm not sure if feeding in the night aids sleep at that age, perhaps the reverse - we don't want to eat in the night, after all, and if she's just latching and then squirming maybe she's trying to say that's not what she wants.

I hope it goes better for you both soon.

CharCharGabor Wed 31-Aug-11 19:34:09

Hi, thanks for your reply smile Will answer you in points to keep my head straight, ATM I forget what I'm writing half the time! grin

-I'm definitely not going to stop breastfeeding entirely as I feed to natural term. As far as night time goes, I know she doesn't need it nutritionally (although her solids appetite is still very hit and miss, poss due to her ears?) but I do feel she still needs it emotionally, at least at some of the times she requests. I do try and settle her in other ways as the breastfeeding doesn't work such as stroking, patting, ignoring (!) but she just continues to roll round and stay awake. If my DP was around at night all the time I would probably try night weaning with him setting her as she does sometimes settle better for him but he is frequently on night shifts so nothing could be consistent.

-Apparently the waiting list for audiology is around 3 months and she was referred about 2 weeks ago so is in the system. If it takes a long time with no appointment then I'll go back to the person who referred her and see what they can do.

-On a usual day she has one nap of between 1.5-2 hours. The last few days though she has fallen asleep sooner in the sling and only had under an hour, leading her to be super grumpy for the rest of the day (although she is grumpy most of the time anyway due to over tiredness). I had hoped that that would make her settle quicker and sleep better but no deal! It's quite bizarre, in the run up to bedtime she is showing all signs of tiredness and then as soon as I try and settle her she suddenly becomes really hyped up and throws herself around. interesting thought about the reflux pain making her associate nighttime with thrashing around.

-I only offer feeds when she asks for them and stop offering as soon as she changes her mind. She just doesn't seem to associate anything else with going to sleep until she is absolutely exhausted and can't stay awake any more.

thanks so much for your reply, it's always nice when someone answers when you've posted desperately! smile

CharCharGabor Wed 31-Aug-11 19:38:37

I do have frequent worries where I wonder if something is wrong with her to make her so resistant to sleep (I don't know what, but something!) She just becomes so wired when you try and put her to sleep, it's strange to see in a child who's so tired they can't walk without falling over. I know she needs a LOT more sleep than she's getting, she always has massive purple bags under her eyes. It makes me feel like such a shit parent as I can't seem to give her what she needs sad

BeaWheesht Wed 31-Aug-11 19:48:41

You're not a shit parent.

Ds at that age used to go to sleep after 3 hours or so of trying so about 11/12 then hed wake between 2 and 5/6 then sleep til 8. I was knackered beyond belief nd I only had one dc then.

It was as if he didn't know 'how' to sleep. At about 20m he seemed to 'get' it. That's all I can say.

Have you tried changing her room around to change things aa bit?

I'd try and push for a quicker audiology appt, I definitely wouldn't stop bf or drop the daytime nap though tbh.

Weissbier Wed 31-Aug-11 20:19:30

You sound like a lovely parent, and very tactful too (I should've realised you'd have tried all my obvious remarks smile ). I don't live in the UK anymore so I don't know how quickly you can push through her referral but 3 months is a long time when she is not getting the sleep she needs - and who wants to start going down any sleep training route before you are sure there is nothing physically wrong.

So I would do that and then go and see a sleep trainer, I do wonder if it's a sleep behaviour issue begun by the reflux. I know you've tried ignoring but she does settle sometimes better for your DP. I think fathers can be less frazzled (for one thing, they've usually done far fewer hours of childcare that day) by this sort of thing and perhaps the baby picks up on that. When I put DD to bed I sing her some little songs and for months had been congratulating myself on my loving bedtime routine that helped her wind down and drift off feeling all warm and secure. Then I found out that when DH says "I put her down, leave the room and she goes to sleep" that is LITERALLY what happens. But DD isn't traumatised by it, she loves her dad.

I have never done any controlled crying or anything like that but I didn't have to, not yet anyway. If there is no physical cause - this has got to be fixed, as you say apart from your exhaustion your DD needs more sleep too. I would say, if that means a week of hell while you do a training method, so be it. It won't traumatise her, she won't remember. Horrid for you though, I would definitely pick a time when your DP can be around to help.

Hope you can get that referral soon.

Weissbier Wed 31-Aug-11 20:20:34

PS no I wouldn't drop the daytime nap either in light of what you said!

CharCharGabor Wed 31-Aug-11 20:24:47

That's a really good way to describe it, with DD2 she also seems to not know 'how' to sleep. Apart from at nap time, when she settles perfectly in 10 mins confused I hope she 'gets it' soon, it would be nice!

We are moving house in about a month so will be changing her room around then. She is terrified of cots, screams until she vomits and poos the second she goes in one so she has a mattress on the floor ATM until she is less 'all over the bed!' maybe that will help reset her?

If the audiology appointment doesn't come through in the next week I will definitely get on the phone to them, don't want to wait too long! I try not to compare her to DD1, who could talk in sentences at around this age but dd2 only has about 3 very indistinct words and hasn't learnt a new one for probably a month or two so I do worry.

Thanks for your reply smile

CharCharGabor Wed 31-Aug-11 20:35:31

Ah, thanks Weissbier smile your suggestions were great, I've just done so much with her over the last five months that I've covered lots of them!

I'm not 100% sure whether she really does settle better for dp or if when I finally pass her over she's at the end of her limit and just gives in! He is definitely less frazzled than me but tbh, anyone would be atm! DD's current favourite thing to do when she is tired (which is all the time) is to walk around humming a constant whimper. She has not stopped doing that all day today, it's been driving me crazy!

I have to say, am not big on CC at all and will keep that as an extreme last resort. Although I am rapidly running out of resorts! I am hoping that she has her appointment, they say it's this, fix it et voila! Wishful thinking I know smile thanks again.

newbielisa Wed 31-Aug-11 20:43:21

I only have 1 child so certainly don't speak from experience but am pretty sure that I've heard that second children do tend to speak later so that could explain the speech thing.
You poor poor thing. Sleep deprivation is horrific and watching your LO so distressed must be awful. I know you mentioned a nap in a sling is that the norm or do some nap take place on the mattress. Is it the case that sleep "is ok" anywhere but the mattress/nursery?

CharCharGabor Wed 31-Aug-11 21:00:27

Thanks newbielisa smile I am hoping that's the case with the speech, DD1 does talk all the time so maybe she just can't get a word in edgeways! she did seem like she was really coming along with the speech a few months, picking up a few words but it's just been static since then and she's lost a few that she had. That is subsequent to the ear infections too so that's why I worry.

It really is horrific, I feel dead on my feet most days and it's a struggle to carry on doing lots of fun stuff with the girls. But I carry on as there's no other option for now!

Her naps are usually on her mattress and that is where she sleeps best in the day. The ones recently in the sling have been where she's fallen asleep while I'm out and even though she sleeps a shorter length of time in it she won't have another sleep later on. That's why I find it so weird, she loves going for a nap but bedtime in exactly the same place just doesn't work!

Lougle Wed 31-Aug-11 21:24:32

CharChar, the temptation is to come onto a thread like this and say 'its perfectly normal, don't worry grin'

But I know that by this age, with DD1 I was a the very end of my tether. I didn't want to hear 'It's OK' I wanted to hear 'I hear you, and I understand your concerns, and you are reasonable to be concerned.'

I have had 3 children who needed extensive support to get through the night.

DD1 - has never cracked it, tbh. She has melatonin to sleep, and she has significant SN, which were only diagnosed at 2 years 9 months. She screamed all night long for her early life, then slept fitfully through the night thereafter, waking several times each night. Even now, with the melatonin, she wakes each morning between 05.00-05.30, depending on how much she has woken in the night.

DD2 sounds like she was similar to your DD. She had reflux, treated. One night, at around 4-5 months old, she arched her back, screamed and looked simply terrified. She WOULD NOT lie in her crib. She was terrified. We moved to co-sleeping. Then, at 13 months, I'd had enough. I night weaned, using the 'no cry sleep solution'.

Basically, I set a time in my head that was the end of 'daytime'. I chose that time to be 11pm. So, she was put to bed at 7pm, and breastfed. Any time she woke between 7-11, she was fed. At 11 pm shop shut.

Now, that meant that if she woke at even 10.58pm, she was fed. But if she woke at 11.01 pm, tough luck. I used to wrap my duvet around my chest, so that she didn't smell my milk as much, and comfort her, but DID NOT feed her.

She wasn't chuffed at first, but soon got used to the system. I won't lie, it took almost a year to get her to sleeping decently. But now, barring nightmares, etc, or toilet needs, she sleeps through the night.

DD3 was similar to DD2, except that she didn't have reflux/cot fear.

If you DO have concerns about your DD, then you need to PUSH. Ask to see a developmental paediatrician. They can do some simple games with your DD, take a history, and either say 'nothing to see here, enjoy her' or 'ok, well your DD's going to need a little extra help, let's get that organised.'

Don't despair, though, it won't be forever. We now have 2 girls that sleep pretty much through, and 1 that has help to sleep for a good chunk of the night.

CharCharGabor Wed 31-Aug-11 22:08:57

Thanks for that fab post Lougle smile I do want to hear that, you are right. In RL I know no one with a sleep issue like DD2's and everyone is massively bored of me. I don't blame them, I'm bored of myself but it's left me with no one to sound off to. I also think most people don't believe me as DD is very happy during the day when out and about as she's distracted, so it's impossible to imagine a distressed and sleep deprived baby.

Your DD2 does sound a lot like my DD2, although mine never managed to get in a cot/crib! I do wonder about night weaning using ncss and I think it is definitely something I will try after getting her hearing checked. I don't expect a quick fix and I'm not particularly aiming for her to sleep through as I know that will happen in the end. I'd just like her to be able to sleep peacefully, I hate to see my baby so unhappy.

On the subject of the concerns, I'm really not sure whether to be concerned. Everyone says that she will get there in her own time and I usually subscribe to that way of thinking but there is just a nibble in the back of my head that won't go away.

Obviously the sleep, or lack of concerns me. Then there is the fact that she started ok with the speech but has stopped advancing. She babbles a lot but again, no new sounds. She likes to get up close to your face often when 'talking' to you. She can understand the words milkies, dinner and do you want to get down but not much else as far as I can tell. If you whisper to her she sometimes mimics but does not know what you are saying, I think. (and I tested it by whispering milkies, which usually leads to a response of dropping what she's holding and legging it to the couch! But nothing.) If you call her name she sometimes responds but often ignores (I feel that may be a usual thing at this age though.) She also rarely mimics sounds I make to her.

In other ways she seems like she's doing fine. physically she is pretty good, can walk although is quite wobbly often, I think due to tiredness. she can climb and scribble with a pencil. She is very sociable and loves to babble and chatter away with lots of eye contact, although is wary of men. She spends a lot of time babbling to herself or to others. She has a great sense of humour and when not tired is a lovely, calm, happy little soul.

So I just don't know whether there is anything to be concerned about there or not. She is still very young and maybe just taking her time. and I've written an epic post there, sorry! You know when you've had no one to talk to about something and then you get a chance and it all just explodes out? Yeah, that just happened :D Thanks again.

Lougle Wed 31-Aug-11 22:20:43

It does sound like her hearing is in question. Children are amazingly good at picking up the subtle mannerisms we have. So it is possible that you are subconsciously 'signing' milk, dinner and 'get down'.

Have you looked into makaton signing at all? It isn't a speech/language replacement, but it really does aid understanding. My DD1 now goes to a special school, and all the staff there use makaton at all times, alongside speech. The number of signs DD1 now has is astounding, and because they are quite intuitive, even if I haven't caught up with the signing, the combination of her attempt at vocalising it (she is very verbal, but has a severe S&L delay, and a lot of her speech is very unclear, even to us) and her attempt at signing it means that we get there.

CharCharGabor Wed 31-Aug-11 22:30:20

Yes, I suppose that is very possible. I do sometimes find myself tapping my boob if she doesn't come straight away for a feed and she could just be following dd1 when I call dinner as it's the same routine every day. I have looked into learning makaton to try and help her communicate and I do use the few signs I know when I remember. I used to work with a non verbal service user who used makaton almost exclusively but I have forgotten a lot of it! Will go and google. Thanks very much smile

Lougle Wed 31-Aug-11 22:45:02


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